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Pigmentation plasticity enhances crypsis in larval newts: associated metabolic cost and background choice behaviour

AuthorsPolo-Cavia, Nuria; Gómez-Mestre, Iván
Issue Date2017
PublisherNature Publishing Group
CitationScientific Reports, 7:39739 (2017)
AbstractIn heterogeneous environments, the capacity for colour change can be a valuable adaptation enhancing crypsis against predators. Alternatively, organisms might achieve concealment by evolving preferences for backgrounds that match their visual traits, thus avoiding the costs of plasticity. Here we examined the degree of plasticity in pigmentation of newt larvae (Lissotriton boscai) in relation to predation risk. Furthermore, we tested for associated metabolic costs and pigmentation-dependent background choice behaviour. Newt larvae expressed substantial changes in pigmentation so that light, highreflecting environment induced depigmentation whereas dark, low-reflecting environment induced pigmentation in just three days of exposure. Induced pigmentation was completely reversible upon switching microhabitats. Predator cues, however, did not enhance cryptic phenotypes, suggesting that environmental albedo induces changes in pigmentation improving concealment regardless of the perceived predation risk. Metabolic rate was higher in heavily pigmented individuals from dark environments, indicating a high energetic requirement of pigmentation that could impose a constraint to larval camouflage in dim habitats. Finally, we found partial evidence for larvae selecting backgrounds matching their induced phenotypes. However, in the presence of predator cues, larvae increased the time spent in light environments, which may reflect a escape response towards shallow waters rather than an attempt at increasing crypsis
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep39739
Appears in Collections:(EBD) Artículos
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